Boston eating places shedding $15,000 per week over coronavirus vaccine mandate, trade group says

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A statewide restaurant association claims Boston restaurants are losing up to $15,000 a week as people take one look at the city’s Proof-of-Vax mandate and leave the city.

“Madam Mayor, we respectfully ask that you reassess the immunization mandate in light of rapidly improving conditions in Boston and provide the roadmap going forward to enable the hardest-pressed industry in the state’s hardest-hit city to create a plan for recovery.” The Massachusetts Restaurant Association said it wrote a letter to Boston Mayor Michelle Wu asking them to overturn the mandate.

Some restaurants are losing $10,000 to $15,000 in revenue weekly, according to the MRA. The organization claims events, weddings and group gatherings are being moved outside of Boston to communities that don’t have the city’s coronavirus vaccine mandate and that certain restaurants have a 50% reservation cancellation rate, which the MRA attributes to the mandate.

“The damage already done to the restaurant industry nationwide in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic cannot be reversed, but the future of our restaurants, small businesses and workplaces depends on the decisions our leaders make today” , MRA President Bob Luz said in a statement.

The city did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the MRA’s letter or inquiries.

Boston’s mandate requires many companies to ask their customers for proof of vaccination against COVID-19. Wu introduced the new rule a month ago amid a surge in cases caused by the highly contagious Omicron variant, and it went into effect on January 15.

Questioned about the mandate, Wu told reporters on Tuesday that no companies have been penalized as the city is in an “educational phase” on the rules, which Wu credits for helping to boost vaccination rates across the city raise. She said the plan would be to eventually move to an enforcement phase, but it’s unclear when.

The omicron-related surge is now declining rapidly, although case numbers remain high compared to previous periods of the pandemic.

“The hope is that we will continue to see progress as vaccination rates increase, and that means we should be able to adjust our policies over time,” Wu told reporters on Tuesday.

Wu continues to face protests against this mandate and arguably the more prominent half of the city’s requirements: the rule that all city employees must be vaccinated. That worker share is currently on hold pending a judge hearing arguments about it, but the proof-of-vax mandate remains in place.